First Time Renter
If you are a first time renter and moving into your first official space, congrats! It’s a huge step towards independence and learning about life. It’s also a new experience that can be both great and horrible depending on how your situation plays out. Here are a few things that can really help when starting out on your own.
How to find an apartment
One of the first things I realized when I first moved out was how easy it was to get bogged down with lots of details and miss the really important things. One of the most important things when you are first time renting is finding a reputable and safe apartment/rental property. So many places can look amazing online only to see them in person and realize what a lie the photos were.
Using sites like Zillow and Realtor.com are extremely helpful when searching for a place, whether you are looking to rent or buy. Just keep in mind that pictures can be deceiving and you should always see a place before you agree to anything. Also, looking through local places like Facebook Marketplace can help with getting the local vibe.
Leasing company over a non professional
One of the few things I actually was told before I started renting was that it was a much safer bet to rent through a leasing agency than directly through a landlord. A lot of times, you run into ‘slumlords’ who aren’t interested in taking care of their properties at all and will over charge you for the dumpiest of places.
Stay away from the homegrown lease and go with someone who a standard lease that is drawn up through a leasing company; this way you know that your landlord isn’t looking to just make money off of you but actually wants to make sure their property stays nice and that you stay their tenant.
Location, location, location
Another important thing to look into when first time renting is where your property is located. You can end up in a terrible and dangerous location that could really ruin your renting experience. Do a little research on the town or neighborhood you want to rent from and also ask locals. There’s nothing like getting firsthand information when renting in a place you’ve never been and a lot of times, this information will not be online.
If you are on the fence about an area and you are close to where you are thinking of moving, drive there and park in an area where you can observe the local life. This way you can get an idea of what things look like on a daily basis.
Check with a professional
As a first time renter, I was working for a lawyer who I took the lease to and had him look over. This is really important, just to make sure that nothing is awry with the language of the document. I would recommend this to anyone, even if you’re going through a leasing agency.
Also, definitely check with the landlord on their policy for ending a lease before the lease is up. Some people will not allow you to leave before you have completed the full amount of time or they will require you to pay out the end of the lease.
Rent and security deposit
Once you have found a place, you will probably have an idea of what the rent is and once you have this figure, the security deposit will usually be the same amount. The security deposit is to cover anything at the end of your rental period that was broken or otherwise damaged in some way.
One thing that is very important and also very inexpensive that you will need as a first time renter is renters insurance. This is like car insurance in that you will be covered in case of theft or injury that occurs to any of your guests when visiting your home. This is pretty much a non-negotiable when it comes to renting and is very easy to acquire. You can usually get it through your car insurance and it’s only around $10-$12 dollars a month.
The walk through
Once you’ve signed on the dotted line, you will perform a walk through of the entire rental, making note of anything that is broken/scratched/chipped etc. This way, when you go to move out, these things are already noted and will not be held against you- i.e. you’ll get your security deposit back, so long as you haven’t broken anything once moved in.
The walk through is performed before you move anything in, so everything is legal and honest. Again, this helps you get your security deposit back when you decide to move out.
Once moved in…
After my roommate and I moved into our first apartment, right away there were things that needed to addressed; my closet door kept coming off the hinge, the refrigerator was missing its door handle, the air conditioner was connected to a light switch and needed to not be, and there were lots of cockroaches- though they were dying, it was still kind of gross.
We had a landlord who was very kind and attentive and made sure that things got fixed immediately, which is why I highly recommend going the professional over homegrown route. These things also taught me how to communicate and be assertive. The landlord is there to help and you are not imposing asking for it.
Day to day
After you’re settled and you’ve figured out what goes where, now you’ll start experiencing life in your new space. And believe me, it does take some getting used to navigating storage and figuring out how everything worked. Along the way, you will run into issues and again, having a good landlord is so important.
Once you have a firm grasp on how everything is wired and what it’s all about, you will start to relax and really enjoy your space, knowing that help is just a text or message away. With our rental situation, we had an app we communicated through along with texting and this kept a nice thread of our conversations, in case we ever needed to go back and reference something. I also liked to photograph things that weren’t working well, just as back up evidence.
When you’re ready to move out
The law in Georgia is to give your landlord 30 days notice before you move out. This may very from state to state, so just google it to make sure. Once you know you’re moving out, whether the lease has ended or you need to move out before the lease is up, give notice to your landlord and perform any duties that need finishing to close out the contract with them.
All rental experiences will be different, but with some prior research and really making sure that you know what’s going on, you’ll be well on your way to being a great first time renter.